‘Appointment with Death’ camps out during Foothill Theatre
June 3, 2016 - accent chair
“High camp” contingency be in a H2O in a Los Altos area right now. Last Friday, Los Altos Stage Company non-stop a decidedly campy “Bat Boy: The Musical,” and on a same night a Foothill College Theatre Arts Department launched a unequivocally farcical chronicle of Agatha Christie’s “Appointment with Death” that out-camps “Bat Boy.”
It’s indeed not Christie during her best, yet infrequently even lukewarm Christie is good enough. She even wrote a play (in 1945), 7 years after a book of a same name was published, Christie astounded everybody by removing absolved of a book’s executive character, Inspector Hercule Poirot, and by changing a torpedo of a whodunit.
Scenic engineer Bruce McLeod takes heedfulness to make a Lohman Theatre theatre demeanour authentically like a run of a King Solomon Hotel, circa 1945, with long, issuing beige drapes, a tiny check-in desk/bar, chair pairings of dual and three, and padded spin seats with vast planters in a center.
Into this stage tide so many characters, mostly chattering nonstop and all attempting to be beheld by someone else. It’s rather formidable to figure out who’s who, nonetheless it’s easy adequate to commend a members of a weirdly unworldly Boynton family: Two naÃ¯ve sons, an overly concerned daughter-in-law, a frightened, loony daughter and, during a core of it all, a controlling, creepy stepmother who final zero some-more than that her family obeys her any command.
Things like hotel rooms, identities and alliances eventually get settled, though a play doesn’t unequivocally take off until a subsequent scene, easily repositioned during a “traveler’s camp” in Petra.
At this point, a assembly is doing a best to arrange out a play’s 18 characters.
There’s a stiff-upper-lip Lady Westholme (a steely opening by Darlene Batchelder), her British counterfoil Alderman Higgs (Bill Dwan, whose Irish accent creates him formidable to understand), a fidgety, shaken Nelly (Missy Lyons as Miss Amabel Pryce), and attractive, intelligent Dr. Sarah King (a finely drawn characterization by Kathryn Han).
Add to that brew a “Dragoman” (Jorge Diaz doing his excellent “Best Exotic Hotel” mimic as a guide), large French alloy (a good spin by Danny Martin), man-about-town Jefferson Cope (debonair Phil Austin) — well, it’s easy to get confused about who’s who. And that doesn’t even take into comment a puzzling Italian lady (Kelly Endersby) who appears to be there as window dressing.
The Boynton family itself is a square of work. The weak, kowtowing brothers are pretty doubtful as played by Peter Spoelstra (Lennox) and Sean Okuniewicz (Raymond). Lennox’s wife, Nadine (earnest Brittany Pisoni) is some-more formidable to pigeonhole. At times she seems as unerringly debasing to her mother-in-law as a brothers; other times, she appears defiant, generally when she decides to accommodate adult with Jefferson for a regretful stroll.
Megan McNulty plays a crazy sister Ginevra as totally batty — during times crawling into a ball, stealing underneath a coffee table, and observant foolish phrases. It isn’t a flattering sight.
But Mrs. Boynton, a evil-incarnate family matriarch, glowing in a black bouffant dress, robust shawl and low red lipstick, is a riveting centerpiece. Though it’s doubtful Christie wrote “her” to be played by a “him,” that’s a approach it’s finished here — and finished distinctively — by Sam Nachison. And wait compartment we hear a lady laugh. (It’s unequivocally some-more like a sinisterly cackle, suggestive of a Wicked Witch of a West in a “Wizard of Oz.”)
Mrs. Boynton is clearly a many intriguing impression in this play, so it’s hapless that she has an appointment with genocide before Act 3. The final act consists of her family mopping around, any meditative that one of a other family members killed a aged bag. Director Janis Bergmann does a pretty good pursuit of gripping a movement moving, though with all those characters it’s formidable not to have a few only blur divided as a story winds down.
As with many other plays these days, “Death’s” actors run adult and down a aisles of a theater, customarily in an try to make a play seem some-more evident to a audience. Here, Dragoman attracts womanlike assembly members by charity to sell them a necklace — for dual chickens. When he discovers a women don’t have any chickens, he moves on. It’s softly humorous comedy shtick.
Shannon Maxham’s 1940s costumes, generally a women’s frocks and hats, are spot-on and stunning. The men, too, demeanour period-perfect. Sound and lighting (by Sean Kramer) supplement to this rather tasteless production.
So, while “Death” isn’t unequivocally adult to Christie’s common standards, removing a glance of 1940s life in a puzzling unfamiliar land and an impossibly clear opening by Nachison make it all worthwhile.
Email Joanne Engelhardt during email@example.com.
What: “Appointment with Death”
Produced by: Foothill College Theatre Arts Department
Where: Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees
Through: Jun 12
Tickets: $10-$20; 650-949-7360 or www.foothill.edu/theatre